Above: Phelps Health, which employs a staff of more than 1,800, is located about two hours southwest of St. Louis in Rolla, Missouri.
After exploratory meetings, an extensive proposal and vetting process, and an in-person presentation, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (MIR) signed on to provide radiology services for Phelps Health beginning December 24, 2018.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase some of the real strengths of MIR, such as our focus on quality and safety and the subspecialty nature of the interpretations we provide for the patients referred to us,” says Joy A. Haven, PhD, executive director of business affairs.
The expansion to Rolla required an ambitious vision and intense collaboration. Led by MIR Director Richard L. Wahl, MD, the administrative team and faculty members sprinted to get radiology services up and running within a mere 90 days of securing the contract with Phelps Health.
“All of this was done at an unprecedented rapid pace,” said Michael W. Penney, MD, vice chair for community radiology at MIR, who was tapped to lead clinical operations and coordination at the new site. “The success of this endeavor hinged on every component of MIR contributing and working together — physicians, administration, critical support staff.”
A host of radiologists, both in Rolla and back in St. Louis, read studies daily. Due to the complexity of making studies at Phelps available for reading in St. Louis and the returning of reports back to Rolla, a skilled technical team was a must. Vamsi R. Narra, MD, senior vice chair for informatics and new business development, as well as Babs Vogelsang, director of information systems, coordinated expertly to launch the essential technical infrastructure.
Above: Michael W. Penney, MD, chief of radiology at Barnes St. Peters and Progress West, also oversees MIR’s clinical operations at Phelps Health.
“The computer needs included developing a robust network between the organizations, setting up six new reading rooms at WashU, acquiring equipment, developing the professional billing interfaces, training and support of the radiologists during the implementation,” says Vogelsang. “We also provided at-the-elbow support (AES) in the reading rooms for the first two months.” The AES team supported the radiologists and worked directly with Phelps to create processes and procedures between the organizations, she said.
Services and support continue to evolve post-launch. “The location and setup of the reading rooms have changed several times over the last six months,” said Vogelsang. “We continue to make improvements so that there is little to no disruption for the radiologists.”
MIR recruited two experienced radiologists who are providing “excellent, stable on-site coverage,” said Penney. "And remote subspecialty coverage by MIR radiologists, which is critical, is working seamlessly." In addition, James R. Duncan, MD, PhD, MIR’s chief of interventional radiology, and Andrew J. Bierhals, MD, interim vice chair for quality and safety, are developing a quality and safety program.
“We have met and exceeded Phelps’ expectations for radiology services,” said Penney.